In August, Neighbors Who Care hosted its Summer Speaker Series at Park Senior Villas. Joyce Petrowski, founder and executive director of Resources/Outreach to Safeguard the Elderly or R.O.S.E., a nonprofit committed to helping seniors avoid scams, spoke to our attendees about scams that are currently circulating the community and tips to avoid those and others that spring up over time.
Joyce explained that thieves use emotions to manipulate and take advantage of senior citizens. Whether they exploit love with romance scams, fear with government scams, or worry over grandparent scams, each scam is designed to put the senior citizen into an emotional state in which their decision-making could be compromised. She explained prior to establishing R.O.S.E., a close relative met someone online and began a virtual relationship. Eventually, after many phone calls where her aunt was groomed by a person she never actually saw, she began giving him money for things he said he needed such as phone repairs, health concerns etc. It was not until her aunt began sharing what was happening with family, that she began to understand what was happening. Fortunately, her family intervened before she was bilked out of large sums of money.
Joyce offered these facts and tips about senior scams:
- Be aware of your emotions. Do not react to strangers via text, email, or phone, and verify what is being asked.
- Talk to a trusted person. If you are contacted by any company or entity and are asked for money, discuss what’s happening with a trusted friend or adult child.
- Verify before trusting. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a grandson or other relative, hang up and call your family member to verify before believing any claims of a crisis needing solving.
- Senior scams are a $7 billion business in the US. Remain vigilant because new scams are created and enacted every day.
- Don’t fall for a caller that shares some bit of your info to convince you that they are legitimate. Always verify.
- When someone calls claiming to be any government entity, i.e. IRS; Social Security; Medicare, do not engage. These government agencies ONLY communicate via US Mail, they do not contact citizens by telephone.
- Never click on links in your text messages no matter who they claim to be.
- Never give money to any reward or sweepstakes; when we win, we win. Legit contests never ask for any money.
Mark your calendar for our Aging Made Easier conference on Jan. 31. More information on senior scams will be offered.